Its official – summer is over this weekend. The first day of fall is Sunday, and life as we know it here on the Eastern Shore will slowly start to change. Restaurants and bars will shutter, leaves will change colors, sweaters and hoodies will reappear and crowds will disperse to their respective towns. We both love and abhor the offseason, so in a fit of nostalgia this week, we decided to do a round-up of the ‘Best Of’ our summer ‘Best Of’ picks. The ‘Best Of’ column debuted this summer, and we’ve covered a lot of ground so far, sharing with you some of our favorite spots. Take a peak below at some of the favorite local spots ShoreBread visited this summer.
Best Of – Local’s Summer: Malia’s
1800 N. Baltimore Avenue, Ocean City, MD
True Ocean City locals lament over the days when the original Mad Hatter’s Café was around. The impossibly adorable joint was a tribute to all things Alice in Wonderland, with murals covering the walls, and an entirely themed menu. We were crushed when they closed their doors, but thrilled when Malia’s opened in the Spinnaker Hotel, bringing back the delicious creations of one of Mad Hatter’s original owners, Malia Ricks. Picking a favorite menu item is next to impossible, so we’ll give nod to the fact that it’s one of the few vegetarian-friendly options in town, with veg-options like Ariel’s Avocado, the Health Nut, Malia’s Wrap and more.
Best Of – BBQ: Smokers BBQ Pit
9711 Stephen Decatur Highway, Ocean City, MD
Ahhh Smoker’s. Come spring, locals find themselves itching for some Smoker’s BBQ, and when the joint finally opens back up for the season, it can be tough to find a parking spot in the gravel parking lot. Yeah, it’s that good. The season is almost over, so we suggest loading up while you can. From the pit, there’s pit beef, pit ham and pit turkey, each sliced thin and stacked on a Kaiser roll. For BBQ sandwiches, choose between fresh, hand-pulled pork, pulled chicken BBQ, Carolina BBQ or Texas beef brisket BBQ. Signature sandwiches take things up a notch. Take the Big Bad Wolf, its smoked sausage topped with pulled pork, bacon and cheese, all served on a sub roll. Home-style platters are just as tempting, with smoked chicken, baby back ribs, pork tenderloin, brisket burnt ends and more. Don’t forget to smother your choices with any of the Smoker’s sauces either –they’re not to be missed.
Best Of – Farm to Table: The Grove Market
12402 St. Martins Neck Road, Bishopville, MD
Fenwick Crab House
The Grove Market is the quintessential hidden gem around these parts. Most tourists will never know the glory that is The Grove Market, and for them we are truly saddened. For starters, the hole-in-the-wall market (and we mean that as a compliment) is tucked away in Bishopville on St. Martin’s Neck Road, which means its next to impossible for throngs of tourists to stumble upon. Second, the reservation system is tricky. Reservations are required and can be made only by leaving a voicemail – typically two weeks out from when you actually want to go. It’s a crap shoot as to whether you will actually get a call back, or you’re desired time slot, but if you do, you’re in for a real treat. There is no menu, as the dinner line-up changes daily based on what’s available and what’s freshest. There is also no menu to look at, literally. The servers spout off the list of dishes with an impressive amount of detail and memory, leaving you frantically trying to cram all the information in your brain while deciding what to eat because it all sounds so damn good. Intrigued? You should be.
9301 Coastal Highway, Ocean City, MD
We love finding any excuse to stop by Liquid Assets, whether it’s for the extensive wine lists, the insanely good cocktails, or the sinful desserts. And now we can add fresh tuna to that list. We’ll start with the tuna tartare. If you didn’t know, tartare means finely chopped and served raw. If you don’t like raw tuna, well, you should. It’s a melt-in-your mouth kind of dish. The tuna tartare at Liquid Assets is paired with a chili cucumber ponzu and tortilla chips for scooping. Ahi tuna is available as well, arriving seared with cabbage, carrots, edmame and basmati rice. There’s also the smoked tuna melt to consider – smoked tuna is tucked between two thick slices of ciabatta bread with red onions, fire-roasted tomatoes, arugula, cornichons and Cabot cheddar. Definitely fancier than your standard diner tuna melt.
37310 Lighthouse Road, Selbyville, DE
For waterfront dining in Fenwick Island, shoot down Route 54 and grab a seat at Twining’s Lobster Shanty. Every table has a great view of the marsh, which means an equally great view of an August sunset. Happy Hour at the Sunset Bar runs from 11:30am to 6pm daily, with a number of food and drink specials. For snacking, order the chunky lobster guacamole – it’s a mix of two of our favorite things, guac and lobster meat. For bigger bites, there’s enough lobster options to make your head spin – lobster newburg, lobster thermidor, lobster tails, lobster pot pie, lobster cakes – you get the drift. If you’re a fan of Nantucket’s Restaurant, than you’ll be sure to fall in love with the Lobster Shanty, after all, its under the care of the same ownership.
12841 S. Harbor Road, Ocean City, MD 21842
If you’ve been to Ocean City, then you’ve most likely had an Orange Crush. Over the years, the Orange Crush has slowly evolved into the unofficial cocktail of our resort town, but what most people don’t know is that the original Orange Crush was born in West Ocean City, at Harborside. “Often imitated, never duplicated” is the motto at Harborside, and rightfully so. The original Orange Crush is made up of Smrinoff Orange Vodka and Triple Sec, but there’s a sampling of all sorts of Crushes to choose from – Kadillac Crush, Bloody Crush, Rum Lovers Crush, Fuzzy Crush, Peach Crush, Captain’s Crush, Crushsicle Crush, Crush Your Goose, along with a collection of Grapefruit Crushes. It’s safe to say Harborside takes their Crushes seriously.
Best Of – Ice Cream: The Ice Cream Store
6 Rehoboth Avenue, Rehoboth Beach, DE
Ice cream flavors are fairly standard here on the Shore. For the most part, your choices range from your run of the mill vanillas to some nuttier peanut butter blends. Not so at The Ice Cream Store in Rehoboth. The list of flavors is long, and to be perfectly honest, crazy sounding. We’ll start with the weirdest – spinach. Yes, spinach ice cream. Described as Popeye’s favorite, its African vanilla ice cream with finely ground up fresh spinach folded in. That’s one way to trick your kids into eating their greens. Next up is the Scorpion Sting – African vanilla ice cream flavored with cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and “you can’t handle this hot sauce,” with deep red strawberry ribboned throughout. The Beer Ice Cream quickly caught our eye, as it’s a mixture of cappuccino coffee ice cream with Indian Brown Ale from Dogfish Head. And who hasn’t dreamed about combining Jack Daniels, bacon, and ice cream? Yep, the Ice Cream Store’s got it.
Best Of – Soft Shell Crabs: OC Wasabi
3316 Coastal Highway, Ocean City, Md. 21842(located in the 33rd St. Plaza)
When asked where the locals go, OC Wasabi is certainly one of the first names to roll off your tongue. Beyond the artfully rolled sushi is a friendly staff and enticing selection of sakes and cocktails. We would be hard pressed to pick a favorite roll, but when we’re craving soft shells, we point our chopsticks toward the Spider Roll. Each piece is overstuffed with soft shell – its almost too much for one bite. For a bigger soft shell indulgence, opt for the Spider’s House, which includes two soft shell crabs, battered and fried, along with a colorful variety of vegetables.